Bombers hang on to beat rival

Lake Placid sophomore Matt Brandes tries to keep the ball inbounds while Saranac Lake’s James Catania chases Wednesday in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid boys basketball team jumped out to a commanding lead at home against rival Saranac Lake Wednesday night, and managed to hold on for a 50-41 win after the Red Storm battled back.

The Blue Bombers started strong, with senior exchange student Jearanut “Pao” Tantitanomwong putting the first two points of the game on the board off the tip off. The home team then went on a 15-0 run, even as Saranac Lake had a few chances at the free throw line to put up some points. But the visitors couldn’t stop the bleeding, and Lake Placid ended the first quarter up 17-0.

The Bombers expanded their lead, when senior Jesse Izzo drained a 3-pointer from the right side of the arc to kick off the second quarter. Saranac Lake got on the board after 9 minutes and 35 seconds of play, when Jacob Shipman found the bottom of the net to make the score 23-2. Shipman went on to lead the Storm in scoring on the night with 15, while Pao had a game high of 18 for the Bombers.

Lake Placid held on to the lead through the second quarter as the Storm never got closer than 16. The home team went into the half up 32-14.

But the Red Storm weren’t out of it yet. In the third quarter, Saranac Lake picked away at Lake Placid’s lead until sophomore James Catania brought the visitors within 10 on a 3-pointer from the right side of the arc little more than midway through the third to make the score 35-25.

Lake Placid senior Jake Coursen drives to the hoop around Saranac Lake’s Carter Gagnon during the later stages of Wednesday’s game in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Shipman reduced the Blue Bombers’ lead to single digits at the end of the third with a buzzer-beater layup to bring the score to 39-30 going into the final period.

Shipman drained a pair of free throws with 5:30 left in the game to shrink the Lake Placid lead to seven as the Bombers’ racked up double-digit fouls, giving the Red Storm 13 free throws in the fourth quarter alone. Saranac Lake kept creeping closer, coming to within six points, but the Bombers held on for the win.

While Pao led Lake Placid in scoring, the Blue Bombers’ senior-heavy team spread the ball around. Izzo had eight, Jacob Novick tallied nine and Jake Coursen put six on the board. Matt Brandes, Matt White and Justin Novick each added to the total as well.

Saranac Lake has just two seniors, and one of them was out for the night. In addition to Shipman’s 15, Carter Gagnon put up 10, Nate McCarthy tallied eight, Catania had six and senior Grant Eckart added two.

Red Storm coach Dermott Morgan said his team played well for three quarters after the slow start.

Lake Placid’s Jacob Novick blocks a shot by Saranac Lake’s Jacob Shipman early in Wednesday’s game in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“The better team won tonight, there’s no doubt,” he said. “But I’m proud of the way my guys came back. I think at one point we were down 22, we cut it to six, and we just didn’t have enough mojo.

“I thought from the start of the second quarter through the fourth was great high school basketball. I’m really proud of my guys’ second-third-fourth quarter, but we just didn’t get off the bus that first quarter.”

Morgan said the team’s lone preseason scrimmage was canceled before Thanksgiving, and he said the lack of court time may have been a factor in the loss.

Lake Placid coach Brian VanNostrand said he was a little worried when Saranac Lake started to come back, and that his team needs to be able to preserve leads as well as they create them this season.

“The first quarter was really good; the second quarter we were still right there; the second half we kind of let off the intensity a little bit and let them back in the game,” he said. “So that’s something we’ve got to shore up, but at the end of the day we got the win.

Saranac Lake senior Grant Eckart puts up a jumper over Lake Placid’s Jake Coursen on Wednesday. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“We want them to make something happen, not just wait for something to happen. And that comes from practice and going through plays. Last year we struggled, and we had a losing record. We’re better as a team this year and we have to learn how to play with those leads; how to keep it or expand upon it.”

Saranac Lake hosts Chateaugay on Friday for a non-league match, and Lake Placid travels to Bolton on Tuesday, Dec. 4 for their next game.